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90 minutes of tedium

FA Cup 5th round – Arsenal 0 Blackburn 0

I’ve just got home from this drab and dismal game at the Emirates Stadium, having paid £49 for the somewhat dubious privilege of my seat at the top of the Upper Tier.

Passionless. Half-asleep. Lacking intensity.

And that was just the crowd.

Soapbox time. When I go to games, I usually sit behind one of the goals. Today, we had seats on the halfway line; the view was great, but the atmosphere was virtually non-existent. While the fans at the north and south ends behind each goal did their bit to cheer the team on, around us was stony silence. Now I’m not exactly the sort to start the singing, but I’m more than happy to join in given the opportunity (I’m a loud singer, but let’s just say I won’t be winning Pop Idol any time soon). Today, it felt like the three of us – my brother Peter, Heather and I – were all but alone in opening our mouths in our section of the stand.

Very disappointing. Even the dullest of games can be livened up with some crowd participation; today we didn’t even get that. You can see how Highbury got its reputation as “The Library” due to the quietness of its fans.

I have very little to say about the game itself. Blackburn created the grand total of ZERO meaningful shots; we were little better, until the final five minutes, when Brad Friedel produced three top-class saves in quick succession (something he has a habit of doing against us).

Nil-nil was about right in the end. Although Arsenal were by far the better team, nobody really deserved to win. The lack of urgency on both sides was curious, given that a replay was the last thing either team wanted – we both have fixture schedules filled to bursting, with European games prominent this month.

Just about the most positive thing I can say is that it’s not the worst game I’ve ever seen live – there is a special place in my chamber of horrors for a goalless League Cup draw against Liverpool about 20 years ago which didn’t provide a meaningful shot on goal – by either side – in 90 minutes plus a further 30 of extra time.

With hindsight, I guess there was an inevitability about it all. Like us, Blackburn were depleted in strength. We had Gallas and Ljungberg both trying to find their way back to sharpness. And, perhaps most importantly, was the fact we were coming off the back of a big emotional win at Bolton, and with two big, big games – PSV in the Champions League and the Carling Cup final – to come in the next eight days.

Oh well. That’s just how life is as a football fan. For every classic thriller or 5-0 hammering, there are half a dozen mediocre games and then the occasional truly awful match like today. I’ve learned to take the rough with the smooth.

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About Tim
Father of three. Bit of a geek. That's all, folks.

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